The Light Between Oceans Read-A-Long discussion

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Chapter 16 - Chapter 20 Discussion

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Simon & Schuster Canada (simonandschusterca) | 22 comments Mod
We have made it halfway through The Light Between Oceans and the book just keeps getting better and better. Not to mention, tugging at my heart-strings more and more!

It was in these chapters that I felt the focus on Tom and Isabel shift to Hannah Roennfeldt. We see life from Hannah’s perspective, learn her backstory, and also learn about her life with her husband and Lucy. When Stedman gives us a glimpse into the moment Hannah meets Frank, I feel like she is drawing parallels between the two couples to the surface. This made me think of the question of fate, how is it that Hannah drew the short straw in life compared to Isabel?

These chapters showcased Hannah’s pain very vividly. I feel that Stedman is truly trying to weigh each side equally in terms of who is right and wrong and who deserves our sympathy as readers. I must admit, as much as I feel for Tom and Lucy – Hannah Rooenfeldt has been through a nightmare.

After Isabel sends Hannah the letter, it was this quote that truly tipped me onto Team Rooenfeldt:
“She shivered. In dark moments, she had wondered whether it was worse to believe your daughter was dead, or that she was alive and you would never see her; she had imagined Hannah’s torment.” (pg 182, ch 20)

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
1. We do not learn it was Isabel who sent the letter to Hannah until later in the chapters, were you surprised it was her who sent it and not Tom?

2. When Isabel says “Tom is a good man. Tom will do the right thing, always: she can rely on that.”, do you think Isabel sees Tom’s idea of “right” differently than he does?

3. What “team” are you on? Has Stedman swayed you towards one side or the other? How and why?


Chrystal (chrystalm) 1. I really thought it was Tom who sent the letter. it now makes me wonder if Izzy does feel more, but hides it because she wanted a baby so much.

2. I don't think Izzy sees right as the same thing. Their views of right and wrong differ dramatically.

3. I'm still team Tom, because I feel like he wants to do the right thing in letting Hannah know her daughter is alive, but can't fight the feeling that he needs to support his wife's side due to marriage vows. such a predicament he is in.


Jaclyn (jaclynmqh) | 7 comments 1. Yes, I totally thought it was Tom, and suppose Isabel must be much more conflicted than she initially seems.

2. I don't think Isabel necessarily thinks of "right" differently than Tom does, but rather that she's more willing to compromise on what's morally "right" depending on the circumstances. After all, now that Lucy has gotten to know and love them as parents, how "right" is it to take away that certainty from her with the truth?

3. I used to be leaning more toward Team Isabel who, though objectively appears more in the wrong, seemed to have a more tangible need than the (then) unknown biological mother. But getting to know Hannah's story, and particularly the tragic circumstances that led to her husband and child being separated from her, makes me much more sorry for her situation, and I'm starting to think maybe Lucy should be returned to her after all. I also wonder, if Isabel has no intention at all of returning Lucy, if it hadn't been crueller to give Hannah false hope of potential reunification rather than letting her assume the baby died along with her husband.


Annie | 8 comments 1. I thought that it was Tom that left the letter for Hannah. It never crossed my mind that it might have been Isabel.

2. I think that Isabel is talking about Tom doing right by her and their family. Isabel knows that Tom was never happy with the decision, but he won’t do something to hurt Isabel.

Based on the next line of the Chapter 20 quote above: ‘But even a moment’s agreement with Tom would be fatal, she knew.” (pg 182, ch 20) , it sounds like Isabel knows that if she gives an indication that she agrees that they did the wrong thing, Tom will confess.

3. Stedman has done a great job with the story. At the beginning, while living in such isolation on Janus, it was understandable that Isabel would want the child after her losses and that she could believe that she could pass of the baby off as their biological daughter. Learning more about Hannah and the type of person that she is, and how much she has lost, I really feel for her. I agree with Jaclyn that it might be crueller to let Hannah know that the baby is still alive, if Isabel doesn’t plan on giving her back.


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Krystal (krystal_osmond) | 10 comments 1. It really did surprise me that it was Isabel. I didn't think she had it in her to do such a thing.

2. For sure, Isabel sees Tom's "right" different than he sees his own "right". I think that's what led them into this situation they're in. Isabel knows Tom will do right by her, and his family. But Tom wants to do right by everyone and everything.

3. I don't know what team I'd be on, honestly. I know that what they did is terribly wrong, and as a mother, I would hate not knowing what became of my child. But also as a mother, I know the need for a child. I can't say! While 'm reading the love and care towards Lucy from Isabel, I think she made the right decision, but now that we know Hannah and her story, when reading about that I wish Isabel would have turned the baby in. I'm definitely all over the place!


Susan (suekitty13) | 9 comments 1. It didn't surprise me that it was Isabel. Despite the mistakes she has made she still has the heart of a mother and she can empathize with Hannah. Isabel is essentially a good person and just wants to ease some of Hannah's suffering. I think she's wrong about this and the letter just makes it worse for Hannah!

2. I think Isabel truly believes that she is doing what is right and so she expects Tom sees it that way also. She can't even conceive that she is in the wrong. Tom most definitely sees it differently.

3. I don't know that I'm on any team except Team Lucy. I do think that at this point it would be cruel to rip her away from the only family she's ever known and make her live with her birth mother who is a stranger to her. It's not a fair situation and really sucks for Hannah but I think staying with Tom and Isabel is what is best for the child.


Melissa (YA Book Shelf) (yabookshelf) Are you sure it isn't Tom who sent the letter? I'm not sure where you're getting that it was Issbel?


Melissa (YA Book Shelf) (yabookshelf) Certainly. She assumes he'll do right by her, but is that what is really "right?" Tom wants to do right by everyone, not just Isabel and Lucy, but I wonder if he realizes how impossible that is now. No matter what happens, it won't be easy.


Melissa (YA Book Shelf) (yabookshelf) Ultimately, I've always thought that Lucy should be returned to her birth mother - that they shouldn't have kept her to begin with, but since they did keep her, nothing will be easy for any of them. Tom feels guilty; Hannah is half insane for grief; and Lucy and Isabel are getting attached to one another. Even Violet and Bill would be devastated if the truth comes out eventually.


Aurora (auroralgr) | 5 comments I was quite surprised to find out that Isabel would send that letter. It demonstrates that she on some level understands the grief that Hannah is going through in some way. I especially found the 'pray for me' interesting too - it would hint that she knows her soul is in jeopardy.

When Isabel says “Tom is a good man. Tom will do the right thing, always: she can rely on that.”, I believe that Isabel sees Tom's version of right as an extension of his duty to her. Up until this point, he's been catering to her despite his better judgement. She sees it, and so assumes that his love for her is the "right" way.

I loved reading the Hannah chapters since I was so curious to learn where Lucy really came from, and her circumstances of ending up with Tom and Isabel. The fact that she's such a sympathetic person too, going through the hardships and racism to marry her husband was hard pill to swallow.

That being said, I'm not on anyone's team. I want everyone to end up fine one way or another, but I'm afraid that they won't.


ebookclassics | 6 comments I'm not getting that it was Isabel that sent the letter either. Maybe I missed something?

Even though Isabel knows Tom is a good man who does the right thing, I don't believe she is able to understand things from his perspective.

I'm still on Team Tom. Although many people will be hurt, the right thing to do is return Lucy to her mother.


Deborah (mom2michael) | 5 comments I was sure it was Tom who sent the letter. But I can see how Isabel might (mistakenly) think it would be a comfort to Hannah to know her daughter is alive and being well cared for. Isabel is quite naive, and has experienced so much grief at the deaths of her own babies, so she might naturally think that believing your baby dead would be worse than knowing they are out there somewhere leading another life.

Of course, this information can only prompt Hannah to search, can it not? Does Isabel want to get caught?

What team? Team Lucy. Isabel and Tom should not have kept the baby, though I see the pain that led to their decision. I feel terribly for Hannah. But in the end, I feel most for the child. She only knows one set of parents. How cruel would it be to uproot her and send her to live with a mother she doesn't know?

I don't think there can be a true winner in this situation.


Hilary (songswrotemystory) | 7 comments Almost late getting to this. Long weekends...

1. I was so sure it was Tom. His guilt about the whole thing made it seem like the author was hinting that it was him. However, once I knew it was Isabel, it made so much sense. Isabel has such a strong motherly instinct that I think she needed to do something like that in order to not give into the guilt that comes with what she did. It was almost as though if she told Hannah the baby was fine, it would make up for what she did. But I may be projecting.

2. I think Isabel thinks that Tom's sense of right and wrong is the same as hers. She's naive in that sense.

3. I'm 100% on Team Lucy. Do the right thing for the kid. If I have to pick from the adults, I'm on Team Hannah at this point, because she's the most sane adult who is directly related so far.

Am I the only one who thinks that this book is going to end in complete disaster for the vast majority of the parties involved? We're half way through the books, and things just keep getting worse.


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Tracey | 4 comments I enjoyed getting to know more about Hannah and how she met Frank. Their story was heartbreaking.

Isabel believes at this point that her and Tom feel the same and that it is right that they keep Lucy. I thought it was Tom who sent the letter to Hannah.

As a Mom I am definitely on Team Hannah. I cannot imagine going what she went through. I can sometimes side with Isabel though because suffering through a miscarriage is heartbreaking.

I found as I got further into their stories it was hard to put the book down. Once we meet Hannah the story seems to change.


Simon & Schuster Canada (simonandschusterca) | 22 comments Mod
Aurora wrote: "I was quite surprised to find out that Isabel would send that letter. It demonstrates that she on some level understands the grief that Hannah is going through in some way. I especially found the '..."

Aurora, you make a really good point, I tried to find a sentence where it concretely says that Isabel sent the letter but all I could see was this:

“She shivered. In dark moments, she had wondered whether it was worse to believe your daughter was dead, or that she was alive and you would never see her; she had imagined Hannah’s torment.”

While she never explicitly says that she sent the letter, it is implied and many of us assumed it - but, is this the work of Stedman trying to throw us for a loop?

What do you all think? Are we missing a detail that anyone else found? Is there concrete evidence for either side?


Susan (suekitty13) | 9 comments Sending that letter was so naive and such a bad idea that I guess I just assumed that it was Isabel and that Tom would be smarter than that! That letter may have been intended to make Hannah feel better but it really only made the sender feel less guilty while making Hannah feel worse. Now that I think of it that way I do wonder if it was Tom because I don't think Isabel feels much guilt about it. She truly believes they did the right thing. It is Tom who is eaten away by guilt so I can totally see him sending the letter. Maybe he has a secret wish to get caught to bring an end to his torment!


The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori) (thecandidcover) | 9 comments I completely agree that this section has shed light on how Hannah is feeling and what she has endured.

1. I was very surprised to learn that Isabel sent the letter. I thought that Tom was trying to ease Hannah's mind a little bit with the letter. However, when you think about it, Tom is very true to his word and would never do anything to jeopardize Isabel's happiness. It will be interesting to see how this letter plays into the next part of the book.

2. I definitely agree that Isabel and Tom have different ideas about right and wrong. Tom's right is what is right for society, while Isabel's right is very self-centred.

3. At this point, I am on team Hannah. I feel for all of the characters, actually. However, in my heart I am aching for Hannah to be reunited with her child.


The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori) (thecandidcover) | 9 comments Olivia wrote: "I completely agree that this section has shed light on how Hannah is feeling and what she has endured.

1. I was very surprised to learn that Isabel sent the letter. I thought that Tom was trying t..."


I am very confused as well about the letter. I am wondering if this question was written in error.


Shonna (macfsh) | 8 comments 1. Unfotunately this was not a surprise for me as I had accidentally read ahead in the discussion group. My fault!

2. When Isabel says “Tom is a good man. Tom will do the right thing, always: she can rely on that.”, it made me wonder if she was trying to convince herself. The fact that she mailed the letter tells me that her conscious is bothering her at least a wee bit. Perhaps by saying this and believing this she is also convincing herself that if it was horribly wrong then Tom wouldn't go along with it.

3. I'm definitely on Team Hannah. She deserves to have Lucy returned to her. Especially after hearing the circumstances that caused Lucy to be in the boat. So devastating!

I feel like the fact that Tom buried the father on the island is going to come back to haunt him. Also the rattle and I think Lucy was wrapped in a shawl. Tom seems ready to crack! I wonder what Ralph would have said if Tom would have confessed his true worries. Which team would Ralph be on?


Stephanie Holt | 7 comments 1. We do not learn it was Isabel who sent the letter to Hannah until later in the chapters, were you surprised it was her who sent it and not Tom? I agree with other posters that it is not shown to us that Isabel did send the letter. I think Stedman did this to make us wonder and that we will find out later in the book who actually sent it. I also wonder if the sender did this to encourage Hannah to look further so that they themselves will be forced to give Lucy back instead of having to choose.

2. When Isabel says “Tom is a good man. Tom will do the right thing, always: she can rely on that.”, do you think Isabel sees Tom’s idea of “right” differently than he does? I think that Isabel believes Tom is on her side more than he is, that she doesn't comprehend how torn he is about this.

3. What “team” are you on? Has Stedman swayed you towards one side or the other? How and why? Lucy/Grace needs to be turned over to Hannah. It will be a major trauma for Grace but she is young enough that she will adjust.

There are some things in these chapters that didn't sit right with me. First, I found the descriptions of the Roennfeldt courtship saccharine. It didn't feel genuine to me. Second, I question whether Tom would have spoken to Ralph about his concerns. Perhaps he was different from the norm, but in that era I don't expect men in general would be open to sharing anything by talking to another man.

The quote of most interest to me was on page 185.
"A lighthouse is for others; powerless to illuminate the space closest to it."


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